Unplanned pregnancies come with so many unknowns. There are lots of big decisions that need to be made so fast it can be hard to be sure of yourself. If you plan to place your child, that decision will come with its own set of uncertainties: Who will I place my child with? Should it be an open or closed adoption? Do I want time with my child in the hospital before the placement? etc.

Once most of the big decisions have been made and you’ve done your part of the planning, there comes a few other uncertainties that you have no control over. They’re decided upon by your child and child’s adoptive parents. One of the big questions that you unfortunately have no real control over is whether your child’s adoptive family will stay in contact with you after placement. The truth is that this is just something you, as a birth mother, will need to come to terms with if you know adoption is right for your child.

However, there are plenty of ways to encourage an ongoing, strong relationship with your child and their adoptive family that will minimize the chance of losing contact.

Build a relationship with your child’s adoptive parents: When I decided on a family for my son, I had already spoken with them through emails and on the phone numerous times. I already knew I liked what they were telling me, and I felt their character was true and genuine. This lead to us creating a relationship based on our enjoyment of each other, rather than it just being business regarding my child. We cared about each other and became close well before my son arrived. This made it about all of us as a family, rather than just me and my son. It’s much harder to cut ties when it affects everyone.

Don’t make everything about adoption: It can be very easy to associate your child and their adoptive family with adoption, since that is how you all came together. However, if that is all you ever talk about with them, they may interpret that as you spending time with them solely because you want to be with your child. Even if that is the case, it may be nice for you to attempt finding other points of interest and commonality. It goes back to the first point; try and get to know them. You may find you have a lot in common and gain new friends. That makes them want to keep you around because they enjoy your company.

Spend time with other members of the family: This may sound slightly redundant, and it kind of is. But if you only ever make yourself known when you want to be around your child, it can be harder to see them. Your child does not need to be present to spend time with other members of the family. There have been times when I’ve made plans with just my son’s mom, or spent some time just talking with his dad, or even watched his siblings. I do this because I have a real love for each of them, they’re not tools to see my son. I want to spend time with them for who they are, not just for being my son’s family. Showing such sincerity adds to the desire for them to maintain contact.

Give them space: Most everything so far has been about being close with the whole family, but some distance is sometimes needed too. They have jobs, homes, responsibilities, commitments, maybe even other birth families they have obligations to. If you’re overbearing, you can feel more like a burden to them and risk their willingness to give of their time. It may be a hard concept to grasp as a birth mother wanting to spend time with your child and extended family, but they do have their own lives they need to tend to. So make sure they have room to breathe.

Of course, there are plenty more ways you can encourage your child’s family to keep contact. But do remember, even if you do all these things and more, they may choose not to keep contact for any period of time. While this is not the norm, it has happened. The best thing you can do at that point would be to be respectful of their decision. This does not mean you completely give up. Keep trying for a while without being too pushy. They may have a very good reason they can’t explain to you at that moment. Write letters, use social media sparingly (as to not bombard them), and leave kind and uplifting voice messages.

If direct contact does not work, you can try contacting the adoption facility you went through to potentially get some information. They may have gotten a new number and forgot to get it to you. Maybe they had to move quickly to help with a sick parent. You never know. But no matter what, even if you can’t get a response and you really do lose contact, please never get vengeful, spiteful, or outwardly aggressive with them. Any form of negativity will not only solidify the separation, but may cause your child to keep their distance, even when you can find each other again when they turn 18.

All in all, if you choose to have an open adoption with your child and their family, choose a family that is best for your child, and then do what you can to make them a part of your family too. Everyone will be happier that way. It is much easier to be kind and keep them around, than to try and regain contact after having lost it.